Be Tolerant and Judge Not?

 originally published on

I’m sure you’ve seen those commercials on the NBC network based on the theme “The More You Know.” One of the most recent commercials has one of the actors from “Will and Grace” telling us not to judge.


Don’t Judge. This is a popular message these days. I can’t say that I completely disagree. For one, I don’t want to be judged – especially badly. I’d rather everybody like me. And I know plenty of people who feel the same. No one wants to be hated on. It’s no surprise that the actor used to give the message on that commercial was from a show that endorses a homosexual lifestyle. Although he or the other actors on the show may not be gay, it’s certain that supporting the lifestyle is something that they think we all should do. They may as well be saying love everyone. I think that’s where the motivation really comes from when someone says “Don’t Judge.” Deep down, they’re really just saying “Love Me” or “Love Everybody.” Not judging equals loving. Nothing wrong with that, is there?


I think it’s possible that there is something wrong with that. Let’s think further. If we say that we shouldn’t judge, is it really possible to actually do that. I’m not so sure that we can actually meet that standard. Judging is an integral part of our life. We judge people all the time just to be able to deal with them in everyday life. Every situation calls for us to make a judgment. Take this example. Some guy asks you out on a date, and while you’re out, he’s making moves all over the place. You know what he wants. Maybe nothing ends up happening, but you’re certainly going to decide whether there will be another date. How can you make that decision without judging? Another example – pedophiles now have to be reported to the communities they live in. I can’t imagine any of us would really want them living near us. In fact we might actually fight against allowing that person to live near us, or even move if that’s the only way to get away from the person. Pedophiles have been judged publicly as bad people. That may seem okay in your mind, but ultimately it conflicts with this popular message we’ve been discussing which tells us all not to judge. Our society judges people all the time, but at the same times tells us not to judge. Maybe it’s not really possible to “Judge not”.


The same seems to be true with this whole idea of tolerance. Tolerance means being open to everybody’s ideas, points of view, religion, sexual preference, etc. Sounds good on paper. Think about this: Are you tolerant of other people who aren’t tolerant? If you’re not, then you’re not meeting the standard that you’re proclaiming for yourself or anybody else. In fact, you’re stuck in the very boat you think you’ve climbed out of. Just like the philosopher Leo Strauss said, “Absolute tolerance is altogether impossible.”


Be tolerant. Judge not. These are popular ideas these days. But I’m not so sure they are truly possible to live out. That doesn’t mean we should hate everybody – in fact we should love everybody. But maybe being tolerant and judging not doesn’t really fulfill that standard in the way we might have thought it did. These considerations are only a call to live more consistently. If we are going to proclaim a message – such as the ones discussed here – we need to take the time to consider whether or not we can really meet the standard our message calls for – can we live it out consistently? If you find yourself preaching a life of absolute tolerance and telling others never to judge, maybe it’s time to Re-View, Re-Think, and Re-Focus.